Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hullabaloo, Take Two!

I've never been notoriously bad at remembering dates and times of events. Ever. Even when I was pregnant. Or when I was a new mom. But now? I just can't win. Earlier in the month, I missed a Sox/Yankees game because I was sure it was on Saturday. But our tickets were for Sunday. Yesterday, I was positive the Halloween Hullabaloo was at 3:00. It was at 2:00.

Today, Rob and I met up with Pete and Rebecca to go to the parade around Spy Pond. We were pretty close to on time, but we didn't see kids in costumes anywhere. I started to get a little nervous as we got closer to the park where the parade was supposed to take place. There were actually a lot of kids around, but they were all dressed in regular play clothes. Surely dressing up as a child wasn't the it costume this year... So, I called the friend who had originally told me about the parade. Somehow, I missed a key piece of information in the email she sent. I was confident that the parade started at 1:00. I should have read a little closer... I missed a zero. The start time? 10:00.

Luckily, Rebecca was quick to forgive, and we turned the wagon in the direction of Jam 'n Java for a late lunch. The boys (err... wild jungle animals) did well through lunch, Robbie perfecting his "more" and "mine" with regard to my fruit. Rebecca unknowingly demonstrated why she doesn't like to give Pete a cup to drink from with an open bottle of water of her own. I like a mom that takes the extra step to really tell a story. She looked so surprised when the water hit her face that I almost believed she didn't do it on purpose!

After lunch, it was down to East Arlington for trick-or-treating around Capitol Square. This should have been fun and easy and trouble free. But this is me we're talking about. Several blocks in to our mile walk, the boys decided they were done with the wagon. I put Robbie up on my shoulders and my glasses in the pocket of my sweatshirt. He seemed pleased with the change of pace and we continued on. After awhile he got heavy, so it was back to the wagon. And Robbie kept standing up. I turned to Rebecca and asked if it was bad that I kind of wanted him to fall out (in a safe, soft place - I'm not that hateful) to scare him into sitting. No sooner had we finished discussing that... All of a sudden, Robbie was on the ground on his back. Thank God for the lion head and piles of leaves. He was well-cushioned and unscathed. And still not afraid of standing in the wagon. About fifty yards down the road I realized my glasses were missing.

It was time to retrace our steps, so I took off with Robbie and Rebecca waited with Pete. They were nowhere to be found. I looked everywhere, and we looked the entire way back home. I have an ad up on craigslist for them... We'll see if I hear from anyone. Trick-or-treating was fun, but I'm not entirely convinced that it was worth a new pair of glasses.

We slowly (so slowly) made our way back up Mass Ave. Neither boy wanted to ride in the wagon. We let them push the wagon. We held their hands. We barely grabbed them before they ran into the street. We put them on our shoulders. And, what seemed like hours later, we finally made it back to where we started. And this is where Pete and Rebecca left us and all hell broke lose.

Robbie and I had another third of a mile to go, which can seem like eternity when you have a squirmy toddler and an increasingly heavy wagon to transport. Rob still refused to sit in the wagon like a nice lion. So I carried him the best I could. Until he threw a full-blown temper tantrum two blocks from home. We're talking a sit-down-in-the-middle-of-the-sidewalk-and-put-your-head-on-a-low-wall-and-scream-your-brains-out tantrum. And it just kept going. I couldn't even pick him up because he kept throwing himself out of my arms. And there was no way he was going to sit in the wagon.

We finally made it home, where I discovered a major culprit. Robbie was soaked up to his armpits. And did I forget to mention that he didn't nap today? So, at 4:15, Robbie went down for a nap until Justin got home at 6:15 for a little trick-or-treating. I realize the poor child has been dragged from house-to-house and business-to-business three times. But Justin never got to take him. Actually, Justin hasn't been home for Halloween since we lived in Georgia. So, a little after 7:00, the whole family headed out. Robbie and Justin, hand in hand, made their way down the street. Seeing this was worth every bit of temper tantrum.

I remember liking Halloween as a kid, but it's so much better as an adult. It's so much more fun to watch Robbie practice his roar (he kept roaring when he saw his costume this morning) and take him to different Halloween activities (especially when we have the time right). It makes me that much more excited for Christmas this year. Hopefully I'll be on time for that.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Hullabaloo

I'm learning what great company Robbie is. It's something that I figure out a little more every time Justin goes out of town. Last fall was so difficult with all of Justin's traveling because Robbie mostly slept, ate, and pooped. Actually, other than cry and spit up, that's all he did. This year is so different. We have a blast together, and the hullabaloo that was our Saturday was no exception.

This morning, Robbie and I were up early to head to the Topsfield fairgrounds for a "toy fair" (real world translation - used toys at cheap prices for charity). I love that he's young enough to go shopping with me and not know that I'm going to give him these toys for Christmas. In all honesty, it would have been easier to do it without Rob. But not nearly as fun. We got a wagon, which should be an fabulous adventure. It's a little rusty, but I figure that will make me less paranoid about him throwing sticks and rock in it when he gets bigger. We also go a fabulous tool kit with more tools than I can identify and a tool belt. Throw in a bunch of books, an alligator xylophone, and a few other toys, and we'll call my Christmas shopping finished - for a mere $52!

The real action didn't start until after Robbie's nap. We headed down the street for me to get a haircut, Robbie in full costume. He was ready to look adorable for Wish Salon. And he kept himself entertained by playing with a drawer full of rollers... I'm not sure if this means he's looking to a career in hair styling. Especially since we found him curled up in his bed with a brush a few weeks ago...

We went to an actual Halloween Hullabaloo at the Watertown library later in the afternoon and met up with Rob's best buddy, Pete, who was dressed as an adorable monkey. Now, a Halloween Hullabaloo is not as exciting as I thought. I envisioned lively entertainment and some refreshments. Maybe some decorations. No. It was two relatively creepy middle-aged adults in terrible costumes (Really? You thought, "80's rocker. Yeah. The kids will totally get that."?). And they kindly lectured the parents on modeling good "concert" behavior. Rob and Pete stayed engaged for most of the performance - far longer than their mothers.

Next we traveled up to Haverhill (yes, we spent about three hours in the car today) to go trick-or-treating with a friend from work, some of her friends, and four other kids. I think the kids had a blast. But I had no idea how much work it was going to be. I had naively envisioned Robbie calmly sitting in the wagon, independently walking up to houses, and actually carrying his bucket. What really happened was that he tried to eat candy through the wrapper, stood up more times in the wagon than he sat down, and had to be carried or strongly guided to go in the right direction. I earned every bit of candy he collected!

When I told my mom about our plans last night, she asked if we had any down time. Really just enough for Rob to nap. Any more than that, and we all start to go crazy. There's just too much to get into. So, tomorrow there's church, a parade, and more trick-or-treating. Bring on the hullabaloo! video video

Friday, October 29, 2010

Soothing Sounds

When I was at the doctor with Rob yesterday, she and I talked about common things that Robbie might be doing. She told me she always felt guilty when she asked parents if the sound of the vacuum soothed their children because she doesn't ever actually run the vacuum. At this point, I knew she was my kind of woman. I told her that I wouldn't be able to answer that question either. We have all hardwood floors, and our vacuum is somewhere in the bowels of the basement.

Keeping hardwood cleaned is more difficult than I ever would have thought, especially with four cats, a dog, and a baby. There are accidents and spills and general traffic issues. We Swiffer. I'm not happy with the wet Swiffer, and our WetJet broke so long ago that any remaining liquid has evaporated from the bottle. So, when people at work started talking about the Shark, I was all ears. In case you aren't familiar with this amazing invention, let me fill you in.

The Shark is a combination of a vacuum cleaner and a steam mop. And I was skeptical. But, let me just tell you that it was worth every penny (I recommend getting it from Bed, Bath, & Beyond with a 20% off coupon). It took about ten minutes to clean then entire first floor. I put on a clean pair of socks right after I finished, and they are still white! This could be a new addiction; I may actually be steaming the floors every night.

And, in case you're wondering, I did try out the vacuum part of the Shark. Robbie absolutely did not find it soothing. He ran, screaming, to the other side of the room and didn't stop until I'd held and soothed him for five minutes. I guess I have a new reason to avoid vacuuming...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Party

Robbie attended his second Harvest Dance at Willow Hill tonight. Last year, he went as Santa Claus, mostly because I knew he would be too big to wear the Santa suit when Christmas time rolled around. This year, he was a lion, complete with the roar. He ran around in his costume, being the life of the party, for about half an hour. He refused any dinner, mesmerized by the lights, the music, and the big kids.

It's hard to tell that Robbie is actually a person in his costume because of the little lion head. Some parents who were coming in couldn't figure out quite what he was. One lady nearly fell down the stairs because she was laughing so hard when she realized the lion cub was Robbie; she thought he was a remote control toy moving around on the dance floor! I didn't expect Rob to really like his costume, but I think he likes to put on a show for other people. At one point, he crawled around on the floor just like a lion. I had to take the costume off after half an hour because he got too hot. But he never whined or fussed. In fact, I think he was a little disappointed when it came off.

Taking off the costume didn't put a damper on his fun, though. He ran around like a mad man, dancing right in the middle of the big kids. Students took turns dancing with him, and he loved every second of it. He drank water out of a cup and ate cookies and pretzels and part of a Rice Krispie treat (hey, it was a Halloween party!). He never batted an eye about the noise or all the people. I'm so glad that I have a little boy who likes to be around people and can fit in anywhere.

He also had his 15-month-old check-up today with his new doctor. Robbie is a whopping 25.5 pounds and an impressive 33 inches long. He's in perfect health and had a big time playing jokes on his doctor. Thank goodness she was a good sport!

video

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Half an Hour Behind...

Justin had a 6:00 flight this morning, which meant that I was up at 3:30 and didn't go back to sleep until after 4:30. I remember the 5:55 alarm going off. I have absolutely no recollection of the 6:10 alarm. I was completely shocked to wake up and see 6:44 flashing in front of my face. There was no "Jesus Loves the Little Children" playing to remind me that it was a weekday and I needed to get up. Just Cindy Fitzgibbon giving me the forecast and reinforcing that it was indeed 6:45.

Robbie and I managed to get dressed, fairly fed (Barkley ate most of Robbie's breakfast), and out the door only three minutes late. When I dropped him off at daycare, I told Zhining that Robbie would probably be hungry. This is when I found out that he actually eats two breakfasts every day. I feed him at home, and then he has a breakfast of yogurt, fruit, and dumplings (really?) with Zhining. She really summed it up for me: "QiQi (pronounced CheeChee) is a hungry boy. He eat a lot." Apparently!

Roberto is doing all sorts of big boy things, and I'm not sure how to feel about it. He watches everything I do and has started imitating me. He's figured out that he needs to buckle his car seat and has started trying to buckle himself in. He knows a few parts of his body (only in Chinese) and points to them when you say them. He runs around like a maniac, calling an orange a ball and eating through the peel. Well, maybe that's not a big boy thing. But it's pretty cute.

I think I've mentioned that Robbie likes to play with the broom and the Swiffer before. Today, I gave him the broom and left the room for a few minutes. When I came back, I saw Robbie walking around with the dustpan, acting like he was brushing the dirt into it. That was adorable enough. But then he walked over to the trash can, opened the lid, and pretended to empty the dustpan into it. How does he even know to do this? Makes me really pay a lot more attention to what I do... I think I'll start doing even more chores in front of him.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Jesus Loves the Little Children

Robbie has never had a favorite toy, unless you count Justin's cell phone. He'd rather explore drawers and sweep the floor than play with any of his toys. But now, at long last, he has a favorite toy.

We try to read Robbie stories every night before he goes to bed. When he was really little, I would sometimes "play" the teddy bear that sings "Jesus Loves the Little Children." And Robbie would scream at the top of his lungs, terrified. Eventually, Robbie grew to tolerate the bear, and, within the past week or so, he started pointing to it after story time. He quickly learned how to make the bear sing by pressing its paw. And, with that knowledge, I created a monster.

Recently, Robbie had been crying a lot when we put him to bed. Last week, I had the brilliant idea to put the bear in his crib with him. Surely that would entertain him. He would listen to the song once and slowly drift off to sleep. Right? Kind of.

Robbie plays "Jesus Loves the Little Children" over and over and over and over. Not in its entirety, though. Usually he gets through the first line before starting over. Sometimes he just gets the word "Jesus" out before starting over. But, by God, he doesn't cry when we put him to sleep any more.

Now, a smart parent would take the bear out after her child fell asleep. But, I am not a smart parent. Instead, Robbie alerts us to the fact that he is awake with a rousing rendition of, you guessed it, "Jesus Loves the Little Children." Over and over and over and over. Every morning. Especially Saturday. We've decided that we much prefer that to the fussing that used to accompany Roberto's wake-up call. So, for now, we'll stick with "Jesus Loves the Little Children." After all, there are far worse ways to wake up every morning. It's kind of refreshing to greet the day with God.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fish

Robbie loves fish. More specifically, he loves HIS fish, Jake. Jake lives on Robbie's dresser, and he is the first thing Robbie looks for when he wakes up. Last week, Robbie took a nap at his friend Pete's house, and he looked everywhere for "fis" when he woke up. In the interest of full disclosure... It isn't really Jake who lives on Robbie's dresser. It's Fake Jake. The real Jake met an untimely demise when we were in Kentucky for two weeks. I'm not sure if there was a lack of communication about the need for the fish to be fed or if it was just Jake's time to go... So, we transferred DunKley, who was living in the kitchen and looks just like Jake, to Robbie's room.

While we knew that Robbie loved his "fis", we didn't really know how much attention he paid. We wave to Jake every day, and Robbie has recently started blowing him kisses. Feeding Jake is always fun, since I make sound effects when Jake goes to get his food from the top of the water. Tonight, as we were putting Robbie to bed, we stopped by the dresser to say good night to Jake. Robbie yelled, "Fis!" and grabbed the jar of food. Unsure of what he was going to do, and a little shocked that he had grabbed the food so quickly, neither Justin or I took it from him.

Robbie turned the jar upside down and shook it over Jake's bowl! He's been watching me closely enough to know that I use that particular jar. I took the jar from Robbie and opened it for him, and he fed Jake! I'm not sure who was more tickled - Robbie or Justin and me.

Now, if only I could get him to take a legitimate interest in cleaning the litter box...

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Appreciating TIme...

A former colleague of mine lost his daughter last week, and that's really been on my mind. I can't imagine the pain he and his family must be going through right now. It's one of my biggest fears. I know Robbie will make a lot of mistakes in his life, and I know there are going to be things that go wrong. I pray every night that none of it is irreversible because I cannot imagine my life without that little man in it.

We let every day pass, sometimes barely getting through it until bedtime. We do mundane things. I put Robbie in the Pack 'n Play to clean the house instead of playing with him and waiting until he is asleep to do it. I turn on the TV to get a few minutes of quiet. I pass him off to Justin for bath time. I don't always appreciate the time that I have with my baby. And I need to.

I don't want to look back years from now and feel like I wasted precious time with Robbie. That's part of why I blog every day. I want to be able to remember even the little things, like the first time he gave me a kiss or what he looked like for Halloween. So, please, hug your children extra hard tonight. Look in on them a little longer when you check on them before you go to bed. And spend a few extra minutes playing. I've heard that the dishes can wait, and I'm going to see if it's actually true.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Spooky!

For the past five years, I have heard about the Spooky Walk at the park down the street from us, but we've never gone. This year, I decided, would be different. Since it was the Spooky Walk, Robbie couldn't go in just anything. After all, adorable baby isn't a good costume if that's what you are every day... And thus began the quest for the right Halloween costume.

We started our journey not actually looking for a costume. We went to the other park down the street for their field day. Robbie ran around and danced to music like a mad man. He picked up rocks and sticks and stirred the dirt. He climbed and slid and swung (swang?). He laughed and "hi"ed all over the place. He stole Justin's ice cream (yes, the ice cream truck was there in late October). He had a blast.

After attempting to tire the child (and succeeding in only tiring ourselves), we set off for TJMaxx, sure we would find a great costume at a bargain price. Oh, and we needed adult socks since all our pairs are missing one sock. There were a few costumes there. For girls. And, although we did find the socks we needed, the overall mission was a fail. So we moved on in our search.

Justin initially steered the car toward the mall, which I decided wasn't the right option. This was mostly because the only place we'd be able to go was Gymboree, and I'd left the coupon at home. I was not going to go in that store without a coupon! So we went to Target. Surely Target would have an ample supply of costumes. Right? Wrong. They had a few toddler costumes, but they were wicked expensive ($40, really?!) and a size too big for Robbie. Fail. Times two.

And so we headed home, me feeling like I had failed as a mother. After all, we only have a week until Halloween. And, knowing me, there won't be much time for costume shopping during the week. Not to mention, we have a Halloween dance Thursday night. This was time for something serious. Thus began my Internet search. I naively started with "homemade Halloween costumes." That's really not me. So, I headed to Amazon but didn't want to pay outrageous shipping.

Then it hit me. Where do I always look when all else fails? That's right: craigslist. Place of breast pumps, baby slings, and rocking chairs. Surely my perfect costume would be there. And surely I could find one in the right size relatively close. Right? RIGHT! At last! Success! Believe it or not, the costume was living in a home only a mile and a half from our house. And a bargain at just $10. I got it just in time for the Spooky Walk. Not only was Robbie festively attired, but he was warm. And adorable.

Be fairly warned before watching the video. He's pretty scary. I just want you to be prepared...
video video

Friday, October 22, 2010

Headaches

No, not the abstract headaches of Robbie, Justin, Barkley, or any one of the four cats. The actual pounding headache that has been throbbing in just behind the front of my skull for the past two weeks. I'm giving into it tonight and going to bed. I just had a massage, and she miraculously made the headache disappear. I'm not sure how, but about thirty seconds into massaging my left foot, the pain just disappeared. So, I'll take her advice and head straight to bed to keep the relaxation going as long as I can. And just think, by only reading a short paragraph, you can get to bed that much earlier, too.

Tomorrow promises to be rich with fodder for blogging. Lots of Halloween fun for the Manna family. I'm going to need this good night's rest to keep up with Justin and Robbie tomorrow. Sleep well!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Poop

It's everywhere I turn. Last night, it was down the side of the tub and in Robbie's shoe. I'm not sure how the poop got into the shoe (I was too busy catching up on my magazine-reading...); I didn't even know he had pooped. But, man, do I wish I could have seen him finding the poop in the tub and deciding it didn't need to be there anymore. I can only imagine the thought process, and I can see the mischievous smile spread across his face as he found it and decided what to do with it.

There was more poop when I went to bed... I smelled something funny when I walked into the bedroom and was devastated to see that Barkley had pooped in my new black dress shoes. Granted, they were a cheap pair from Target. But, still, No girl wants to see a pair of shoes go down like that. The trend continued at 4:00 this morning when I work up to go to the bathroom and found more presents from Barkley downstairs. Now, he normally doesn't do that. I found him in the backyard with an expired jar of sour cream that had been thrown out last Saturday... Hopefully the worst of that has passed.

And then we got to bath time tonight... Robbie and I video chatted with my sister, Hilary, tonight. He blew kisses and batted his eyes and clapped his hands and had a fabulous time "playing" with Hilary. I went to wash him after we finished chatting, and my hand brushed up against something. Something hard. And brown. Yes. That's right. Robbie pooped in the tub. Again.

I'll count my blessings about this. It was solid (diarrhea in the tub is terrible). Robbie didn't throw it over the edge. But I'm tired of all the work it takes to get everything cleaned after a poop incident. He's too young to start potty training. But, would it hurt to stick him on the potty for a few minutes before bath time?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Kiss This

Robbie used to give kisses. Open-mouth, slobbery expressions of love. Then he learned to bite, so we ducked for cover every time he loomed over our heads with an evil grin on his face. Yesterday, however, was different. Robbie has learned to pucker up and kiss!

I noticed this when I was leaving daycare and heard Rob making a kissing sound and saw him actually blow a kiss to Zhining. He had finally figured it out! But seeing him blow a kiss was nothing compared to getting my first kiss on the cheek from my sweet baby boy. I've kissed him thousands of times, but he has never actually been able to return the gesture. But last night, he did.

We'd finished reading two stories and listening to his musical bear sing "Jesus Loves the Little Children" seventeen times, and I was carrying Robbie to his crib. I gave him kisses and a big hug and asked him to give me a kiss good night. And. He. Did. He knew what I was asking and then did it. And thought it was hilarious.

We stayed there, Robbie poised over his bed and balanced on the crib railing, for a few minutes. I pelted his face with kisses and he threw his head back and laughed. I asked for more kisses from him, but he shook his head and laughed. He gave me one every now and then, but I think he enjoyed toying with me.

Now, whenever I ask Robbie to say good bye to someone, he blows them a kiss. I have a feeling this is going to get him into trouble some day... But for now, I love that he wants to spread his happiness to everyone.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Bath Time Blunders

Roberto hates having water poured over his head in the bath. So much that he screams bloody murder when he sees the green cup make its way out of the bin. Justin and I have different ways of approaching this. Justin prefers to wash Robbie's hair at the beginning of the bath to get the misery over with and let Robbie have fun. I take the opposite approach, letting Robbie play to his heart's content and then ruining the moment by sudsing him up and dousing him with water.

I've been working to find new methods of making bath time more pleasurable, at least the washing part of it. I've started giving Robbie some suds and have begun teaching him to wash his face. Right now, he doesn't do much more than pat his cheeks and laugh hysterically, but it's a start. He still screams and tries to claw his way out of the tub when it comes time to rinse, though, so there's work to be done.

What I don't understand is that the green cup is not threatening unless it is in the hand of either Justin or myself. When Robbie holds it, it is a magical cup, bringing smiles and laughter to a particular little boy. So the new challenge is that I must figure out how to get Robbie to dump the water over his head and rinse the soap himself. I think we might be close to the solution... video

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Sweeping Good Time

We have toys for Robbie. Tons of them. It feels like I'm always tripping over something that lights up, plays music, or rolls across the floor. I find strange plastic items in my purse and under my pillow. In every room, there is something for Robbie to play with. Magnets in the kitchen. A stuffed moose in the bedroom. An activity table and car in the living room. Don't even get me started on the closets!

But what does Robbie want? Not the toys I painstakingly selected for his birthday. Nothing soft and cuddly or loud and obnoxious. No, my son wants what any true American boy wants: the broom and dustpan.

He's occasionally "swept" the floor for me when he's found the broom in the hallway. Today, he searched it out behind the exposed pipes in the kitchen. And, boy, did he get to work! Until his friend Pete came in and wanted to sweep the floor as well. It was a little touch-and-go for a few minutes, with both boys doing equal battle for the broom. But, rest assured! I came into motherhood well prepared and was quick to offer the boys a Swiffer as well. If only I had thought to put the Swiffer pad on... Maybe then everyone would have been happy: the boys with a new toy and me with clean floors.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Date Night

Remember date night? Barely? I think it used to be something fun and exciting. Trying a new restaurant in the North End. Going to a play or a movie. Walking around Boston for a few hours. Driving out to Revere for Kelly's. Driving to the New Hampshire coast for lobster.

Justin and I have resorted to date afternoon. Our babysitter met us at the house when we all got home from picking Justin up at the airport. We barely slowed the car down enough for Robbie to get out of his car seat and fling himself at Elena before we were off. It wasn't so much what we were doing, as you'll later understand. It was that we were doing it. Without Robbie.

Justin and I have built up our "prepaid" massages at Massage Envy (we actually made it once a month before Robbie was born, but Justin currently has SEVEN prepaids), so we headed there first. It was exactly what we needed. We both saw new people, and they were a.mah.zing. And then it was off to the exciting portion of the date: grocery shopping. That's right. We went to Stop & Shop on our date.

It's going to sound silly, but I remember wandering the aisles of the Kroger on Watson Boulevard late at night with Justin when we first started dating. We would just go to find whatever looked like it should belong in our cart and talk about whatever was on our minds. That's what I was hoping for tonight. But, there were actual groceries to get, a babysitter to get home, and chores waiting at home.

I was a little sad to realize that even the grocery store on date afternoon becomes one more thing on the to do list. But, the important thing is that we did that to do list item together. And we didn't talk about Robbie. That much.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Fun?

Do you ever forget that being a mom is supposed to be fun? Get bogged down with groceries, mountains of laundry, piles of junk mail, and a fussy child? Me, either.

During the week, I often forget about the fun that being a mom can be. Sure, I love my time with Robbie. There are few things as wonderful as his smile and infectious laugh. But, during the week, we have a schedule to keep. He needs to have dinner and a bath and be in bed at a reasonable hour. And I need to make it to the gym, let the dog out, and try to keep the house in order.

But weekends are different. Weekends are a time to have the kind of fun there just isn't time for during the week. Today, Robbie and I went to the Fall Festival at Willow Hill. I didn't get to say good bye to my students last year, so it was important to me that I get to see them. So, after meeting with our friendly Irish contractor (who told me he wanted to buy Robbie his first tool kit) about installing some new light fixtures, Robbie and I were off to Sudbury.

Robbie was in heaven from the second he got out of the car. We ran into people in the parking lot, and he put on all his Robbie charm: batting his eyes, smiling coyly, and even blushing adorably. The festival was mostly in the gym, with a huge blow-up sports contraption, which immediately grabbed Robbie's attention. He wanted to grab the ball that was hovering in the air for the baseball segment of the game, which posed a problem because kids were swinging bats at said ball. He went to the ping pong toss, grabbing all four balls and running around with them.

And when the band came? Forget about it. Robbie is not a stellar dancer, but he has a great time doing it. He ran around in circles, bounced up and down, and waved his hands to the music. Then the girls noticed him and started mimicking his moves, which he really got a kick out of.

And I loved watching it. Seeing his face light up when new people came to meet him. Hearing his laugh when he got to grab a prize from the bin. Feeling him throw his body against my legs and seeing him look up at me, eyes bright and a smile stretched across his face. And I remembered how fun being a mom was supposed to be. And how fun it really is. I just have to remember to find the fun Monday through Friday.

? video

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekends

When Justin tells me he has to go away for the weekend, I put on a pretty convincing act of being irritated and disappointed that he won't be around. My secret? I'm actually happy to have a little time alone. I can't let him know that, of course. But, it's important to have some time to get big projects one. Like that big cleaning spree I decided to was such a good idea earlier in the week...

The good news is that our room, Robbie's room, the bathroom, the kitchen, the living room, and the downstairs closets are clean and organized. The bad news? I'm not sure that there really is any. Other than the fact that it's 11:30 and I'm still awake. And there are still three bags and one big box left to go through in the dining room. And that I decided to ignore the chest full of Justin's things in the guest room and his closet. But I'm pretty comfortable with those decisions.

I know I can sleep well tonight (provided Robbie doesn't wake up in the middle of the night) and knock out the rest of it tomorrow. Then it will be time to reward myself with two episodes of Hoarders. After all, I've proven that I'm not one by getting rid of three bags of trash, doing all my laundry, and donating enough stuff to fill up my Jeep. I have a hard time watching the show if I have closets filled to the brim.

So now it's time for a well-deserved sleep. And I have the entire bed to myself. This is going to be fabulous!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Wish List

I used to come home to an empty house and have a few hours to myself before Justin came home. There was time to do whatever I wanted - clean the house (right...), grade papers (sure...), run errands, catch up on my DVR'ed TV (more likely)... And with all that time, I never really appreciated it. Until now. Until this afternoon. That's when it occurred to me that my perfect night is what I used to take for granted.

Robbie and I went to the store this afternoon to pick up chocolate chips for cookies I needed to bake (and later burn). That kid was everywhere. Pulling Tums off the shelf. Looking longingly at the colorful bags of chips. Knocking over bottles of water. Batting his eyes at fellow shoppers. And then we came home.

Robbie loves to climb the stairs. Loves it. Except for tonight. Tonight he wanted to be carried, and I had four bags of groceries, a purse, Rob's backpack, and a bag of my work clothes. So, I did what any good mother would do. I grabbed the back of Robbie's pants and carried him, with the rest of the load, up the stairs. He laughed like a maniac the entire time.

As soon as we got up the stairs, Robbie made a mad dash for the coffee table, where Justin's drink from the night before sat. It was Robbie's favorite thing: a cup with a lid and a straw. He put the straw in his mouth and drank. And drank. And drank. And then he ran around the house poking at cats and chasing the dog.

Since Robbie had finished what was in the cup, I decided to give him some more water. Apparently, fast food cups don't hold their lids as well as sippy cups. I learned this as I saw the cup drop to the floor, spewing water all over the kitchen. And then my son stooped down to play in it. And then he stood up and tried to walk through it. And then he fell.

As much as I love Robbie, I would have given almost anything for a few quiet hours on the couch with a clean house and a dry kitchen floor. And then he turned around, laughed, and threw himself at my legs. And I wouldn't have traded that for all the quiet time and clean houses in the world.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A New Gait

I'm not sure when or why it happened, but Robbie's gait has changed. I noticed it this afternoon when we got home. Robbie got out of the car and took off down the sidewalk. He didn't stop when he got to our house; he kept on running down the street. I have a feeling that walks around the block aren't going to take an hour anymore, unless Robbie still stops to pick up every single leaf.

It's like he's gained a new confidence. He's not shuffling around, unsure of his footing. Now, he's sure of what he's doing; he just wants to do it so much faster. So he is running everywhere. Down the street. Around the kitchen. Through the dining room. And back to the living room. The only way I know where he is is by the clomping of his little baby shoes. And then he pops his head around with a loud, "Hi!"

In other news... We've thought Robbie has had eczema. It's spread to different parts around his body, and I'd love to get rid of it. The doctor recommended a hydrocortisone cream. Do any of you have suggestions? Or an idea about how long it should take for this to clear up?

Here's hoping for a more exciting entry tomorrow!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Piles and Piles

Do you ever feel like you're drowning in your own stuff? Everywhere you turn there's something to trip over or pick up or dust or get the dog fur off of? Your closets aren't safe to open and every drawer is so full you worry something might shift, causing the drawer to permanently stay closed? You have air conditioners hidden behind arm chairs because you're too lazy to take them to the basement and there's no room in the closets? Oh, that last one's just me?

If I didn't know better, I would say I was pregnant and nesting again. It hit me last night. And hard. My house is disgusting and needs to be purged. Do I really need the sippy cups whose lids were destroyed by Barkley three months ago? How about the tea that's supposed to help nursing mothers? And the nine tins of hot chocolate from various holiday gift exchanges? What about the dog water bottle to use on walks that Barkley half-chewed two years ago? And the broken baby gate shoved in the closet? What kind of a sane person keeps these things?

I am done fighting a losing battle with my house. I started the purging tonight. I didn't get too far, but at least I've started. The bathroom is clean and organized -- at least until Justin finishes with his shower tomorrow morning. The kitchen cabinets are started. Robbie's room is presentable (just don't open the closet). But where, you ask, did I put all the excess? The only logical place. The dining room. The staging area for all disasters and unknown items. I'm giving myself through Friday night to get this house back in order.

Here's my downfall: bags. Tote bags, larger purses, grocery bags. Even trash bags in a pinch. That's where I put everything I don't have a home for. And then I get frustrated with the whole project and put the bags into the closet, sure that I will sort through them one at a time. Which I do, the next time the closet gets so full that I don't want to open it if Robbie's within ten feet because I worry he'll be buried in the avalanche of stuff.

Now, I'm a very organized purger. I have a list of everything that has to be done. Sample entries? "Empty linen closet." "Empty Robbie's closet." "Empty nightstand drawers." You can see where this is going, right? Being the good wife that I am, I warned Justin about the process and told him the house was going to look like a disaster for several days. And, being the brilliant husband that he is, he calmly replied, "How can I help? I don't want you to have to do this on your own."

Now, I know you. And I know you're probably like me. When you get going on a cleaning frenzy, the last thing you want is your husband trying to help you organize. After all, if he did, you'd have no idea where anything was. And you won't have any idea where he put his shoes when he can't find them, even if he is the one who put them "away". But, the point is, that he asked. And for that I am eternally grateful and further inspired to continue my cleaning spree.

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Walk in the Park

Today was all about family time. It's the first day Justin, Robbie, and I have had to spend together without any other commitments in weeks. And you know what? It was nice to have time just to catch up.

In the morning, we took a long drive to nowhere, seeing where The Great Road went. Turns out it goes to 495 and there are very few Dunkin Donuts once you get past Bedford. I'm still not entirely sure I get the whole "going for a drive" thing, but Justin really likes it. And Robbie and Barkley didn't seem to mind.

This afternoon, we all took a walk to the park. At the playground, new signs had gone up saying unleashed doges were not allowed in the area. A seven-year-old yelled at us for having a dog. I guess he couldn't sound out "unleashed". For some reason, Robbie wasn't digging the swings. Or the monkey bars (he usually hangs on and laughs). Or the slide. Especially the curling slide, either time Justin tried to put him on there. He was, fortunately, happy to sit in his stroller for 4.5 miles.

In a move signaling a further desire for independence, Robbie refused to eat ice cream Justin spooned for him this afternoon. The little prince would only eat ice cream he got out of the container himself with his own spoon. I have a feeling this kid's going to have a stubborn streak in him. I wonder which side that came from...

A girlfriend and I went to the So You Think You Can Dance performance tonight. A.Mah.Zing. I so wish I could dance. But I'll settle for the killer parking spot we got. Metered. Right outside the doors of the arena. Also qualifying as amahzing - just without the punctuation.

And now it's late. Way past my bedtime. I was going to get up to run at 5:00 tomorrow morning, but that just won't be happening. Instead, Robbie will have to suffer through the gym with me and cleaning the house will have to wait. I've decided to do a total organization of the house, since I feel like I'm drowning in stuff. But, more on that tomorrow when I'm less tired. Well, hopefully less tired. For now, I'll leave you with a video of Robbie.

Oh, and in exciting news, I passed the 3000 page views for the blog today! Who would have thought people would want to read what I write? Pretty awesome! Thanks for reading! video

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Poof!


I've been looking forward to this weekend for weeks. Maybe even months. And now it's over, even though it feel like it never really got started. My family has come and, unfortunately, gone. I have no idea where the time went.

When we're younger we have endless days with our families. In fact, it seems as if they will never end. We will never graduate high school and get to leave for the freedom of the dorms. We will never graduate college and be able to really make all our own decisions. And then it's finally time for a little family separation. I have had over seven years of this, and I was happy to go home twice a year and host my family once or twice a year. And then I had a baby. Now I can't get enough time with my family.

We did so much this trip, it doesn't seem like it should have gone by in the blink of an eye. We spent Friday in Maine, having lunch in Kennebunkport and shopping the outlet malls in Kittery. There was a walk on the beach Friday night with Justin and looking at all the stars we don't get to see from Arlington. Saturday involved a 3.25-mile run, a nap with Robbie, a trip into Newburyport, a little lobster macaroni and cheese, and a terribly sad football game. Sunday was breakfast at Mad Martha's, the craft fair at Harvard, a walk to the Charles with my brother, and a little time to start picking up the house.

And the airport run. It was finally official that everyone had left and the weekend was over when I dropped my little brother off at the airport. I'd held it together pretty well when I said goodbye to the rest of the family, maybe because I knew I will see them at Thanksgiving. But I won't see Hunter until Christmas. He kept assuring me it was only two months, but I happen to know that it's actually two months and fifteen days.

I didn't realize the toll this weekend had taken on Robbie until I got home from picking up the dog at PetSmart (Did I mention that his grooming appointment was accidentally cancelled, which I didn't realize until I called to check on his progress at 3:15? Not to worry... He's clean and gorgeous!). I found Robbie passed out in his recliner in a diaper and a Star Wars t-shirt. I'm sure Justin was so proud.

As Hilary reminded me, there's only 46 days until Thanksgiving. Here's hoping we can make it.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lie Stories


One of the best parts of family time is my stepdad, Tom. You have to listen carefully because you never know quite what will come out of his mouth. We've been waiting all weekend for the perfect quote, and it came tonight while watching the miserable first half of the Kentucky game (it looks more like the Auburn game, but we'll remain painfully optimistic until the clock runs out).

The announcers were commenting on how fast an Auburn player was, regaling the viewing audience with the tale of how this particular player bet some friends that he could catch a squirrel and then did. Tom, fed up with the game about five minutes into the first quarter, was not amused with the story. From the love seat, we heard, ‎"If you caught a squirrel in your hands, your hands would be chewed off by now. That's a lie story." This was immediately posted to my sister's Facebook status and responded to with a picture of Matt holding a squirrel by the tale. His caption? "I guess I'm the exception." Apparently, it is possible to catch a squirrel with your bare hands.

The most important part of this is that we now have a new catch phrase: lie story. When I think Justin may not be telling me the truth about something, I ask if he is being a "truth teller". I think we're going to have to change that. I'll now be asking him (and Robbie, when he's old enough) if they are telling me lie stories. I'm pretty sure it will be a hit.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Posting Too Early...

Apparently I posted too early last night... The real fun happened when I went in the bedroom Robbie, Justin, and I are sharing. Something smelled amiss, so I went immediatey to Robbie. Upon inspection of the still-sleeping child, I discovered that he, the blanket, the sheet, and the mattress were covered in vomit. Milk, penne pasta, bread, and cheese puffs. And Robbie was still dead asleep.

We got him up. I immediately put the baby in the tub while Mom started cleaning the mattress. Robbie never cried; he just looked confused. After all, he had already taken a bath and was peacefully sleeping. He recovered nicely, though, and sat on the couch with us while his mattress dried. I'm a little concerned about this; I think he finally has proof that we do indeed do fun and amazing things after he goes to sleep...

After his bed was reassembled, it was time for sleep. For both of us. Robbie was fine while I had the lights on, but, as soon as I turned them off and plunged the room into darkness, he flipped out. Since everyone can hear everything in this house, I brought him into bed with me. I figured the best approach was to pretend to be asleep, but this led to having my nose picked... I opened my eyes to find Robbie's face inches from mine, a huge smile on his face.

After a few minutes, Robbie put his hand in mine (I was using it to block entry to my nose), laid his head between my neck and shoulder, and cuddled up close. It was the most perfect cuddle moment of my life. And it lasted for two hours, until I woke up with my arm half asleep and a full bladder.

This was the first time Robbie has ever voluntarily cuddled with me. I'm really hoping he's going into this phase. I could get used to hugs and hand-holding.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Four-Day Weekend


It's finally here! That's right, my four-day weekend. I am back in the world of personal days, and it feels fabulous. It was almost torture waiting for the clock to hit 3:07 this afternoon...

My family came up for our yearly pilgrimmage to Plum Island and, for the fist time since we move here, I am able to spend the Friday of the trip with them. I could feel myself start o relax as I drove away from Lawrence. By the time I crossed the bridge onto Plum Island, the rest of the world was far from my mind. Until I walked into the house.

There is a small loft area that overlooks the living room that has a slatted railing and a slanted roof. It's the perfect play area for someone pushing 33 inches. Alledgedly, Robbie had been happily playing up there for an hour. I, however, have seen no proof of that.

As soon as I walked through the door, I heard him screaming. He seems to be getting a little too good at that. We went upstairs to get him, and he didn't want to come out. But he continued screaming... I'm actually not too sure what to do about the screaming. I honestly can't tell if he's in some sort of pain from teething or growing or if he's just being a brat.

We had the problem partially solved when I opened a bottle of water for him to drink. He nearly downed the whole thing. And at dinner, he practiced tossing penne pasta in the air with a fork. He's a very adept food handler. And to think the server looked at me like I was crazy when I asked for the pasta without and sauce or butter. Could you imagine the disaster that would have been?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Berenstein Bears

The childhood classic saved the day at the Manna house tonight. Not the written version. We had an emergency and had to rely on the television series. Yes, it was that bad.

I spent the night getting ready for my family's arrival while Justin crammed for an exam tomorrow night. It should have been easy, leaving me with enough time to catch up on Private Practice and watch Survivor as it aired. Except it wasn't. At all.

Robbie woke up around 8:00 and stood in his crib quietly until he saw me through the crack in my bedroom door; I was putting away laundry and hoping Robbie wouldn't see me. He made eyes at me for a little while, giving me that sleepy smile of his that melts my heart. He even went so far as to lay his head on his arms.

And then all hell broke loose. For forty-five minutes. I have no idea what happened, but it was epic. It started with just regular crying. I finished what I was doing, hoping he would eventually decide to go to sleep. When he didn't, I went down to get a bottle. By the time I got back, Robbie was out of control: whole body screaming. I tried to hold him on my lap and give him the milk, but he kicked his way to the ground, where he continued his screaming. Justin eventually came in and got the same result.

We thought maybe a change of scenery would help, so we took Robbie to our room. He refused to let any of us touch him, including Grover, who put herself right in the mix. We eventually took his pajamas off, but that did no good. A few times he threw himself at me and held on with a crazed madness I've never seen before. Then, as quickly as he'd thrown himself at me, he threw himself off, refusing to be touched.

So we did the only thing I could think of: we put on The Berenstein Bears. It took a few minutes for Robbie to notice it was on. It must have been my fabulous singing that got his attention (yes, I know the words to the theme song). I have no idea what he finds so intriguing. But thank God there's something.

I still have no idea what happened with Robbie tonight. He wasn't hungry or wet or in pain. Just very tired. And wicked upset. Oh, and did I mention that he's still awake and it's 10:40? I guess he's staying awake to see Nona, Pops, and Aunt Hil, who should be walking through the door any minute.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Oh, Eddie Bauer

I'd like to tell you that today was a better day, but I try to only be brutally honest with you. In the interest of full disclosure, let me assure you that it was not good. Well, except for the part where Justin came home and we actually got to spend some time together. That part was good.

We started the day with a 12:20 wake-up call from young Robert, complete with upper-register screaming. I changed his diaper and dutifully gave him a bottle of milk. I know, I know... It'll cause cavities and all sorts of other horrible things. But, at 12:20 in the morning, I don't really care. A bottle of water just isn't going to cut it. Even the milk barely cut it. He started screaming as soon as it was finished. But, being the good mother that I am, I let him cry it out. He'd been changed, cuddled, and fed. His nose was wiped and the nightlight was left on. Eventually he went to sleep. I'm sure he's a better child for it. Right?

My good fortune continued at Lawrence International High School this morning. Please note the dripping sarcasm... A student who had, bless her heart, only joined my class last Friday came up to me at my desk and whispered the most horrible words anyone could ever hear: "Miss, your pants are ripped. We can see your panties." Now, the first offense was not what you would think; it was the use of the word panties. Just makes my skin crawl.

I was absolutely horrified. How do you not realize your butt is on display for the entire population of your school? And, to make it worse, I had no idea how long my pants, my new Eddie Bauer pants, had been deceiving me. Fortunately, I had my gym clothes with me at work, since I go straight to the gym after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays. At the last minute, I grabbed a sweatshirt, which conveniently fit around my waist for the remainder of the period. You must be dying to know what I did for the rest of the day. I did the only thing I could do; I wore my black running pants. With my black sweater. And black beaded shoes. It was a hot mess.

Just to make sure you have the full picture, I checked out the rip on the pants. It went from about a third of the way up the back all the way to the front. The seam completely split. And, yes, the pants fit. I'll be making a special trip to Eddie Bauer to get a new pair. And I'll probably reinforce the seam. Or at least make sure I have a spare pair of pants in my drawer whenever I wear them...

Monday, October 4, 2010

One of Those Days...

Not much went right today. Not much at all. Robbie and I were late heading out of the house today, and it was pouring. So much for taking the time to do my hair and make-up. I managed to make it to work on time, without the help of my rear windshield wiper.

After work, I picked up Robbie and his best buddy Pete. Before going into daycare, I picked up all the items in the back of the car. Having just gotten the car detailed, I wanted to keep in clean. I stumble backwards, tripped over the cement, and tore my right thumbnail off on the door handle.

And then there was the ride home. They boys both sat in the back, glassy-eyed. We had to go to the car wash to get the rear windshield wiper repaired. When I got there, CJ, the manager, told me he wouldn't be able to get the part and asked if I could come back. Are you kidding me? I took an hour out of my day to get this fixed, with two children in the back of the car, and it's still broken? And it's supposed to rain for the next two days? Great.

Robbie and I got home just in time for him to eat dinner, take a fast bath (poop free!), and head to bed. I was so frustrated with everything that I needed some exercise, but I'd had to cancel my run. Robbie is sick with a new cold and it's raw and rainy out. I didn't think that would be a good mix. So, after I put Robbie down, I went out to plant eleven mums. I have to have the house looking fabulous for the family's visit Wednesday.

It took about an hour for me to get everything in the ground, and it looks much better. At least what I could tell from the dark. I came back in, ready to cook dinner. Except there was a screaming child upstairs. I felt horrible. He'd been quiet before I left, so I just assumed he'd fallen asleep. I have no idea how long he'd been crying, but the tear and snot factor was pretty high. I rocked him with a bottle of milk, and he's still asleep right now.

I'm so exhausted from two bad nights' sleep that it's off to an early bed for me. Hopefully my child and the child next door will sleep through the night. I just need one night of not waking up to a screaming child...

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Road Trips...

...Aren't for babies. At least the return leg. Robbie and I went up to Vermont with two friends this morning and met up with two other friends for lunch at Simon Pearce. He did so well on the way up there. He kept himself entertained during the hour wait for our table. He was even pleasant during lunch, once he got his grilled cheese. I cruelly woke him up after driving from lunch to Woodstock to shop and explore. And later forced him to play while we enjoyed dessert before driving home.

The poor baby was too tired to sleep. He cried nearly half the way home, so uncomfortable in his car seat. He didn't want milk or anything to do with my friend Jane, who tried to soothe him. He fell asleep after about twenty minutes of crying, and we enjoyed the quiet snoring for almost an hour. All of a sudden, he woke with a start, panicked. There was nowhere to pull over in mid-New Hampshire, so we had to keep going.

I finally managed to pull over. There were no diaper problems. Just a sweaty baby who could not be consoled. He screamed for at least another thirty minutes, sometimes going up an octave in desperation. Jane finally got him calmed, something I am not good at when Robbie gets panicked. And it calmed me down, too. I'm still noticing that my jaw is tense from clenching it during all of the screaming.

It was a wonderful feeling, though, to pull in and get a sleeping boy out of the car. There's nothing quite like they way they cling to you in their sleepy state. Robbie smiled all the way upstairs and drowsily laughed as I changed his diaper. I love those moments. Just not the desperate screams that get him there.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Idiot...


I didn't believe in pregnancy brain until I left my purse on the table of a crowded restaurant and walked out. I wasn't totally convinced when I missed my exit twice on one trip home from the airport with my sister. I knew it was true when I called the office looking for a student I was sure was skipping only to find out that he had been in my class the entire time.

I naively hoped that it would fade after Robbie was born, but, no. There was just the onset of mommy brain, which is worse than pregnancy brain because there are no hormones to blame. And I can't blame sleepless nights. It's just pure stupidity from giving so many things little bits of my attention.

I fell victim to the perfect example of mommy brain today. Robbie and I had a busy morning, meeting with the contractor who's been doing work around the house, hitting the gym, having lunch, and planting 120 crocus bulbs. I rushed through the last part of gardening, leaving twelve mums and countless tulip and daffodil bulbs unplanted, because we had a Red Sox game to get to. I'd been trying to get ahold of the friends Robbie and I were going with all afternoon and grew more and more panicked when they didn't answer.

I grabbed everything I needed, including Robbie, and dashed out the door. I called a new friend from work, who was going to meet us, explaining that we would be a little late. In five minutes, Robbie and I were knocking on Micah and Allie's door, decked out in our finest Red Sox attire. And Allie opened the door in a sweatshirt and yoga pants with a very confused look on her face. Because we didn't have tickets for the game this afternoon. We had them for tomorrow. When Robbie and I will be in Vermont for the day.

Of course. Of course. Justin is out of town for five days, and I was so proud of myself for finding ways to keep busy the entire time he was gone. Except I didn't. I felt so stupid; I nearly burst into tears in the middle of the living room. Luckily, Micah and Allie are amazing friends and salvaged our near disaster of an afternoon. They took me to drop of the car to get detailed, where the rear windshield wiper was torn off in the car wash... And we took a long walk and had dinner on a park bench.

Now I sit here, hoping that I do in fact have plans to go to Vermont tomorrow. Wouldn't it be terrible to find out that I'd actually made those plans for today?

Friday, October 1, 2010

Breathe In...

And I've survived another week. Made it all the way to 3:07 on Friday afternoon. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love my job; I have some amazing students. But, God, Friday feels great. Especially when I know I have a clean house, a rainy night, and a husband who is out of town for the weekend. All I wanted was to get home and enjoy the quiet. And here I sit, perfectly content as the rain pounds on the newly replaced roof.

I love having a Friday night with time to just breathe. We spend so much time trying to fit everything in, and last weekend was such a whirlwind. Justin hasn't been out of town for an extended period since July. I'm excited to only have to clean up after myself and watch what I want and not have to talk after Robbie goes to bed.

Believe it or not, I'm very much an introvert. Teaching all day wears me out, especially now. I'm on my feet and working with kids more than I think I ever have. I love it, but I need time at the end of the day to recover. I think that surprises a lot of people, since I play the part of an extrovert very well. And on that introverted note, I'm going to sign off.

But just one more thing... A special hello to Jasmine and Cristina, students of mine who have apparently become devoted but disappointed readers. Only disappointed because they haven't been mentioned. But the world should know that they are fabulous!